To help the League emphasize that it will no longer tolerate dissent of a referee’s calls, the League is instituting a new ZERO TOLERANCE policy. The policy will be clearly posted in the Laws of the Game and FAQs on the League’s website. The new law, which will allow a referee to eject a player who persistently dissents calls without penalizing the overall team, will state:

A. The League endorses a zero tolerance approach to foul, abusive, or degrading language. Foul and abusive language includes, but is not limited to, profanity, racial/gender/religious/ethnic slurs or degrading comments, and harassing or demeaning words, phrases, or gestures. Regardless of whether it is directed at another player, a teammate, the referee, or a spectator, referees will automatically issue a Red Card ejection to the player. The ejected player must immediately leave the field complex. In addition to sitting out the remainder of the match the player was ejected from, the player will be required to sit out two additional matches. Additional match suspensions will be added for such things as continuing to use foul and abusive language, failing to leave the field complex immediately, and other actions which bring the game into disrespect. In the event of expletives used in frustration (missed shot, etc) that is muttered under the player’s breath, the referee is NOT required to Caution the player. Rule of thumb—if the foul language can be heard by spectators on the sideline, it MUST result in a Yellow Card.

B. The League endorses a zero tolerance approach to dissent of a referee’s call. When a player or a substitute on the bench persistently dissents, regardless of whether foul, abusive, or degrading language is used, the referee will eject the player/substitute. When a player on the field is ejected for dissent, the team may replace that player and DOES NOT have to play down a player. When either a player or a substitute on the bench is ejected for dissent, they must immediately leave the field and the surrounding area. The referee will not restart play until the offending player has left, but the clock will continue to run. To avoid the loss of playing time, teams are strongly encouraged to urge the offending player to immediately leave the field complex. In addition to sitting out the remainder of the match for which the player was ejected, the player MUST also sit out the team’s next scheduled match. Additional match suspensions will be added for such things as continuing to use foul and abusive language, failing to leave the field complex immediately, and other actions which bring the game into disrespect.

So to summarize the new policy, the referees now have the power to eject a player without punishing the entire team by having them play short. If a referee ejects a players due to foul, abusive, or degrading language, the team can substitute in another player to replace the ejected player, thus not penalizing the entire team. In the past, referees would take A LOT of verbal abuse from players, because they didn’t want to the team to play short. They now have the power to replace problem players, and remove them from the pitch.

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